If I Did It (on purpose): Confessions of Ed Stelmach

By DJ Kelly March 4, 2008

Note: This post is my first cross-post with the Calgary Herald’s Q. I’ll be posting there ever so often from here on in. (So big thanks the the Herald for having me join their online team.)

Election-mania blew through Alberta on Monday night like a hurricane hell-bent on providing the change we’ve been standing from the roof tops shouting for. Okay, judging by the voter turnout it was more like a really small dirt devil on an abandoned baseball diamond that more or less thought about bringing the change a select few bloggers bitched about online. I guess what I’m trying to say is: just like has happened with the US presidential election, the pundits got it WAY wrong.

Some of these so called “experts” may have predicted as many as 60 seats for Ed Stelmach’s Progressive Conservatives, but I heard no one predict more than 70 would be their headcount for the next four years. That is a staggering endorsement for the status quo when ALL of the build-up to the election revolved around “change”.

Congratulations have go to Ed Stelmach for proving he really is the heir to King Ralph’s everyman crown. Writers and political scientists alike called him “bumbling”, pointing out he “struggles with his command of the English language”, and even went as far as to say he often “sounds like Woody Allen trying to make a quick decision”. (These all may, or may not be things I’ve said about the Premier in the past month. Although more likely, and truthfully, they’re the former.) None-the-less voters delivered a strong statement saying ‘c’mon give the guy a chance’. (Yup, that’s as strong a statement as we Albertans ever deliver with our ballots.) Whether they feel bad for how he has been treated by the media or just saw through it all to see he was just an honest guy doing his best is a moot point. What really matters is ‘Steady Eddie’ got the mandate he wanted from the people of Alberta.

But what does that say about us as Albertans? The fact we don’t care about your credentials; we care about what your actions.

Did Ed and his team really see this train leaving the station back when he was sworn in as premier? Is that why they decided to govern for 15 months without a mandate from the citizens? Were they really that shrewd that they knew they had to show voters what they could do before requesting judgement? Probably, yes. And that, I think is the real reason the PCs came out on top last night. Ralph Klein admitted he had no plan anymore and was just phoning it in, and in 2004 voters appeared leery. Ed had to be the opposite of Ralph on that point and needed to show potential voters he could fix the province.

Good on him for realizing this so quickly. That’s not bad for Alberta’s second premier in a row to not even have a university degree.

Now let’s all hope he keeps on the same pace and continues to fix the problems Albertans know we have. Now’s not the time to reflect on a job well done. After all, Ed, you did run on a platform of “change that works for Albertans”. We’re all watching, so get to work on giving us that change we’ve asked for.